BC Partners brings in bankers for Foxtons

Foxtons, the UK estate agency owned by global buyout group BC Partners, is having a tough time amid the housing market slowdown. Investment bankers from NM Rothschild are reportedly being asked to advise on a refinancing of the company’s £250m debt package.

BC Partners, the global buyout firm, will this week instruct bankers from NM Rothschild in London to carry out a review of its portfolio company, UK-based estate agency Foxtons, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.

The review is to focus on refinancing the firm’s debt package of more than £250 million (€314 million; $459 million), although other restructuring measures, such as job losses and branch closures, have not been ruled out. Foxtons has 24 branches across London, Surrey and Middlesex, and is one of London's largest estate agencies.
The debt package, which was provided by Bank of America and Japanese firm Mizuho, is understood to cost £26 million per year to service, the report said.

BC Partners acquired Foxtons Group, which consists of estate agency Foxtons and mortgage broker Alexander Hill, for around £400 million in June 2007, shortly before the sub-prime crisis sent the UK property market into a tailspin.

To buy Foxtons, BC Partners beat Boston-based TA Associates and global buyout firm 3i in a six-month auction. At the time of the deal, it was reported that Jon Hunt, who founded Foxtons in 1981, walked away from the deal with £388 million for his 97 percent stake in the UK business.

BC Partners declined to comment on the refinancing. NM Rothschild was unavailable for comment.